This is the story of the ValueTwinSlaver, who he is and how he came to be.
Last week, I talked about building a Riku deck that might be more than a match for my usual playgroup. This week, with the last pieces of the deck in the mail, I want to talk about what went into building the deck, and why it excites me enough to overcome any trepidation I might feel at using it to beat up my friends.
The deck’s origin goes back to this year’s Modern bannings, specifically the banning of Splinter Twin. I had invested enough money and time in my Splinter Twin deck that the banning felt like a bit of a blow to me. Nothing earth-shattering, as it was for some players, but enough to make me feel a bit sour.
The banning also shook me off of ever wanting to build the “best deck” in Modern ever again, or really to brew/build anything outside my typical Delver wheelhouse. Primarily, I got into Modern to have a format where I could play my Izzet constructed deck forever. The Izzet Gizmometry theme deck is the first deck I ever fell in love with, and there’s a straight line from that deck to the Delver decks I play in Modern today.
I experimented with buying into Twin because I was close to having all the cards anyways, and I wanted to see what playing a “better” deck was like. Going back to Delver was fine, and staying there for the foreseeable future, so as to not get burned by bannings again or spend too much money on Modern decks, was also fine.
At my heart, though, I’m a deckbuilder. And if I wasn’t going to build decks in Modern, I was going to have to build them somewhere else. That led to a bunch of tinkering with my Melek deck (which I’ve written about here). That tinkering, in turn, led to a few thoughts:
- My Melek deck is primarily about gaining as much value as possible (cast those Fact or Fictions!), but if it wins, it usually does so by comboing off. The only reason I’m allowed to combo off is because the deck isn’t scary in the early game (i.e. the deck is not great).
- If I improve the deck, it’ll likely get targeted earlier, reducing the chance of getting to combo off. So improving the deck = less wins.
- If I improve the deck, it’ll likely have to combo off faster, reducing the amount of playtime and zaniness in games with Melek. So improving the deck = less fun (?).
- Melek himself is way too expensive and often sits in the Command Zone…and there’s not really much to do about that.
At the same time, I was also unhappy with the lack of interaction offered by my then-played Jor Kadeen deck, and I was looking for a substitute. I ended up settling on Alesha. This left me with the following decks in my EDH line-up:
- Savra – Black and Green
- Daxos of Meletis – White and Blue
- Melek – Blue and Red
- Scion of the Ur-Dragon – All Five Colors
- Alesha – White, Black, and Red
This left a hole in color usage, with Green being the only color I wasn’t using three times. I contemplated building a mono-Green deck, but nothing I put together was very exciting. Then I figured out what I needed to do.
I needed to add Green to the Melek deck.
Adding Green to the Melek deck would take care of the durdling I often did in the early turns, playing card draw spells just hoping to hit lands (hoping, always hoping, but not always succeeding). Instead, we’d simply ramp to valuetown as quickly as possible. I started looking at Blue/Red/Green Commanders and settled on Riku of Two Reflections as a fitting replacement for Melek.
Advantages Riku has over Melek include:
- Costing one less mana.
- Being able to copy both creatures and spells.
- Being in colors that include ramp.
Looking through my cards, trying to figure out what else I could bring to the table in a Riku deck, what would make it more than just “Melek with mana ramp”, I found the cards from my Twin deck. Then I found a bunch of cards from other decks I’ve played, and I decided that Riku would essentially be a greatest hits deck, full of cards I love from decks that had dropped by the wayside. Here’s the full decklist. Below, I’ll go into some detail of where all of the cards came from. (I’m not including hyperlinks for cards that are in the deck, as it’s much easier to just view the decklist side-by-side with this post if you want to see what everything does.)
What Melek Gave
- Sphinx of Uthuun
- Cyclonic Rift
- Dig Through Time
- Fact or Fiction
- Prophetic Bolt
- Steam Augury
- Blasphemous Act
- Chain Reaction
- Mizzium Mortars
- Rite of Replication
- Sensei’s Divining Top
What carried over from the Melek deck was all of the Fact or Fiction variants (makes sense, right?), all the boardwipes, and Rite of Replication. Value and destruction, sounds about right for what to bring forward from the Izzet deck.
My Second Modern
- Treasure Mage
- Trinket Mage
- Wurmcoil Engine
- Academy Ruins
- Expedition Map
- Oblivion Stone
Mono-U Tron was the second Modern deck I ever played, and it was the deck that cemented my love of the format. Getting to take my opponent’s turn and ultimate their Liliana, targeting them, is still one of my favorite game moments. Also, Wurmcoil Engine is one of my top 5 favorite creatures in Magic. When I found these pieces in my extra cards, I knew they had to go in, and that they’d get to make some new friends as well.
Ruric Thar Says Hello
- Acidic Slime
- Brutalizer Exarch
- Eternal Witness
- Flametongue Kavu
- Oracle of Mul Daya
- Sakura-Tribe Elder
- Wood Elves
- Zealous Conscripts
- Raging Ravine
All of these pieces came from my all-permanents, Primal Surge version of Ruric Thar, which I eventually took apart for not being quite as open-ended as I would’ve liked. Of this list, I’m most excited for Flametongue Kavu, who is a BAMF.
The next card isn’t technically a Ruric Thar card, but it’s inclusion is a nod to the “Welp, I won now.” feeling of casting Primal Surge.
- Tooth and Nail
With that, we may as well hit the next section.
Splinter Twin Is In
- Deceiver Exarch
- Splinter Twin
- Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
This, plus the additional Twin combo support, is the deck’s trump card. Plan A is to value the table out. Plan B is to fall back on this combo or, if in especially dire straits, the Mindslaver lock with Academy Ruins. (If you don’t know how the Splinter Twin combo works, give it a quick Google.)
I feel okay including this because it fits the feel of both my Melek deck and, weirdly, my Ruric Thar deck as well. Melek often combos off to win. The Twin combo is simpler, but not much different. Ruric Thar was always one top-decked Primal Surge away from winning. This Riku deck will be the same, just with Tooth and Nail for Kiki-Jiki/Exarch.
There are a handful of other cards that also come from previous decks, but the list above contains the most notable inclusions. I have most of the deck assembled at this point, and I can’t help but smile a little when I shuffle through it. This deck, of all the Commander decks I’ve built, feels the most like “my deck”, if that makes any sense.
We’ll see how it plays out in reality, with all the pieces put together. I’ll be back with the first report, or a follow-up on building Alesha, in a week or two.